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Friday, October 5, 2012

Local Control of City Police, But Less Transparency: Is "Prop A" Worth It?

Posted By on Fri, Oct 5, 2012 at 6:45 AM

Once upon a time in Missouri, back in the Civil War, our governor's heart belonged to the Confederacy. But St. Louis and its mighty police force leaned Union.

So the governor and his legislator pals in Jefferson City created a state board to control us. That system is still in place a century and a half later.

Missourians could get rid of it if they vote yes on Prop A. It'll save everyone money. But a "yes" vote will likely cut some jobs, and will also explicitly sign away our ability to peer into the process by which police "police" themselves -- that is, see whether they punish cops who deserve it, or go light on their own.

Is it worth it? Yesterday, we rolled up our sleeves with Brooke Foster, spokesperson for the Prop A campaign, "Safer Missouri," and dug right into it.

Daily RFT: Why is Rex Sinquefield, the retired billionaire free-market activist, bankrolling this campaign?

This is how Rex Sinquefield will look if Prop A passes.
  • This is how Rex Sinquefield will look if Prop A passes.
He does support smaller, more local government. He's never mentioned that in reference to this initiative, but I'm sure it appeals to him. And he's really, really into making St. Louis more of a first-tier city.

So this was as simple as Mayor Slay and Jeff Roorda of the police officers union coming to him and saying, 'This is really important.'

Really? The officers union? Back when Representative Jamiliah Nasheed was trying to get this done legislatively in Jeff City, the policemen didn't have her back.

Right. But they're on board now because of the things we put in. This measure protects their collective bargaining rights, their pensions, and their health care. Because those elements were added, they felt comfortable endorsing it.

How will Missouri save money on this?

The conservative estimate from the state auditor is that we'll save $4.5 million in general.

Four million of that will be saved in Jeff City and St. Louis by combining administrative and HR departments. So it will eliminate redundancies, but without taking cops off the streets. I don't want people to think that.

But people in Jeff City will lose their jobs, right?

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